Slave Conditions and 14th Amendment


SlaveConditions and 14thAmendment

Afterthe civil war, the former slaves in the south experienced differentconditions, of which some were extreme. In most places, governmentceased to exist. The southern infrastructure became almost totallydestroyed and cities were in shuffles. Besides, chimneys were loomingin overgrown fields, where homes were once standing. The farm fieldsbecame destroyed and the popular social order did not exist anymore.The former slaves became free with similar rights as everyone else.The federal government imposed the concept of Reconstruction andtroops continued to march through the cities in an attempt to enforcenew laws.

Oneof the conditions that former slaves experienced was repression.During the reconstruction period, new labor arrangements, includingshare cropping and tenant farming became developed. Laborers that hadeverything they required except land became tenant farmers. Thesejust rented the fields. The tenant farmers usually had the freedom ofplanting whatever crops they desired. On the other hand, freedmenbecame sharecroppers. These rented tools and animals from landowners,worked the land using their own expenses and paid the owner amid halfand two-thirds of the output after the harvest. In most cases,sharecroppers had to plant particular crops needed by the landowner.Although these labor arrangements provided a resolution to thefarming calamity, sharecropping was perceived as a means for theaffluent whites to progress controlling society and keeping blacksoppressed past the civil war. The contracts supported land owners.Generally, sharecroppers lacked resources for marketing their harvestindependently and were usually cheated during the sale. On the otherhand, the plantation stores conveniently sold everything that farmersrequired in running their household such as clothing, seed, and fooditems which they could not grow. The stores were in a position togrant a credit account for purchasing supplies when they wererequired and then paying the tab at harvest. However, the pricefor this convenience was exceedingly high. Most sharecroppers foundout that the share of the crops at harvest was not sufficient inpaying their debts to the store. This implies that whatever thesharecroppers received for the entire year was less than what theywere expected to pay (Foner,2014).This forced debtors to stay on the plantations with hopes that thecrops for the following year would be much better than the previous,allowing them to settle the bill. This kind of labor system existedin some sections of the south for a long period, involving a vastnumber of the landless blacks and white farmers in most parts of thesouth.

Anothercondition experienced in the south by those that were initiallyslaves was encountering circumstances that were exceedingly similarto slavery. Just like during the slavery period, there were somelaborers that worked without receiving any wages. For several yearsafter the civil war, Southern states used to convict some whites andpoor Africans of vagrancy or other crimes and sentenced them toextended periods of forced labor. These convicts were leased from thestate to owners of businesses for a low fee. Since convicts werecheaper compared to slaves, the incentive of treating them well wasusually low. On the other hand, another condition that wasexperienced after the civil war was the limitation of the rights ofAfrican Americans. The passage of the Black Codes offered alimitation to the rights of the African Americans. The black codesvaried by locality but usually included restrictions against blacksthat worked in certain businesses, carrying guns and confirmingagainst whites. The black codes restricted everything from loiteringin public areas to interracial marriages.

Theconditions that former slaves experienced contrasted with theirexpectations. This is because the former slaves expected everythingto change at their own advantage, but this did not happen. Forinstance, they expected that they would have equal rights with thewhites after the civil war however, this was not the case sincerather than having equal rights as those of the whites, their rightsbecame restricted through the black codes. Although they thought thatthey would have better conditions, there was a contrast in this sincethe conditions that they experienced were more or same as theconditions that they experienced during the civil war. The formerslaves did not expect to experience poverty just like during the timeof civil war since they expected the reconstruction period to bringchanges to them however, this was a contrast because rather thanmoving away from poverty, the former slaves remained poor.

The14thAmendment entails one of the amendments used during thereconstruction time. This amendment focuses on equal guarding of lawsand nationality rights. The amendment became suggested in respondingto concerns linked to earlier slaves after the civil war. Thisamendment became resentfully contested, especially by the states inSouth. The Southern states were coerced to endorse it so as torecuperate representation in the Congress. This amendment restrictsthe actions of all local and state officials. The history of theamendment reveals that it was necessary to address some issues afterthe civil war. The amendment also reveals that the former slaves werenot happy with the experiences that they experienced during the civilwar. Since they were not contented with way they were being treated,they hungered for changes through this amendment.

Throughviewing the different experiences that were experienced by the formerslaves, it is apparent that reconstruction was in itself a failure.One of the primary reasons why the reconstruction was a failure isbecause the reconstruction was not capable of eradicating the highexpectations of the slaves (Foner,2014).Therefore, rather than mitigating the effect of slavery during thecivil war, the former slaves continued to live under the conditionsthat were just like the ones that they were experiencing during thecivil war. For example, during the reconstruction, some of the formerslaves worked and could not get wages, which implies that thereconstruction was not a success, but a failure.


Afterthe civil war, those that were former slaves had positiveexpectations towards the eradication of slavery and adoption of lawsthat could make the slaves feel like freed people. However, this wasnot the case since the former slaves lived under conditions that werealmost similar to the experiences that had before. In itself,reconstruction can be viewed as a failure because it went against theprojections. For instance, during the reconstruction, some of theformer slaves worked and could not get wages, which implies that thereconstruction was not a success, but a failure. On the other hand,labor arrangements such as sharecropping functioned against theformer slaves.


Foner,E. (2014).&nbspGiveme liberty!: An American history.New York: W.W. Norton &amp Company.